Quantum interference mediated vertical molecular tunneling transistors

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Science Advances  12 Oct 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 10, eaat8237
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat8237


Molecular transistors operating in the quantum tunneling regime represent potential electronic building blocks for future integrated circuits. However, due to their complex fabrication processes and poor stability, traditional molecular transistors can only operate stably at cryogenic temperatures. Here, through a combined experimental and theoretical investigation, we demonstrate a new design of vertical molecular tunneling transistors, with stable switching operations up to room temperature, formed from cross-plane graphene/self-assembled monolayer (SAM)/gold heterostructures. We show that vertical molecular junctions formed from pseudo-p-bis((4-(acetylthio)phenyl)ethynyl)-p-[2,2]cyclophane (PCP) SAMs exhibit destructive quantum interference (QI) effects, which are absent in 1,4-bis(((4-acetylthio)phenyl)ethynyl)benzene (OPE3) SAMs. Consequently, the zero-bias differential conductance of the former is only about 2% of the latter, resulting in an enhanced on-off current ratio for (PCP) SAMs. Field-effect control is achieved using an ionic liquid gate, whose strong vertical electric field penetrates through the graphene layer and tunes the energy levels of the SAMs. The resulting on-off current ratio achieved in PCP SAMs can reach up to ~330, about one order of magnitude higher than that of OPE3 SAMs. The demonstration of molecular junctions with combined QI effect and gate tunability represents a critical step toward functional devices in future molecular-scale electronics.

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